Am I An Ageist?

Ageism (Continued)

Six hundred forty-six million references show up on a Google search for university departments of ageing.  Thirty years ago, there was no Google, but my guess is the number of references would be incomparably smaller.  If any one person should have credit for putting ageing on the map, it would be Dr. Robert Butler who coined the word “ageism”

In 1982, Butler founded the Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development at the Mount Sinai Medical Center, the first department of geriatrics in a United States medical school. He was a revered pioneer in the field of discrimination against older adults.

Today there is some evidence that ageism can affect longevity.  Professor Becca Levy, a psychologist at the Yale School of Public Health, in her recent book, Breaking the Aging Code, contends that ageism can affect physical and cognitive health and take years off one’s life.

In her Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, people followed for forty years were twice as high at risk, if at young ages they had developed negative stereotypes about ageing. For more on this and other studies, see

Ageing is getting a lot of attention.  It should.


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jackie in Arizona

Your column has influenced me to stop buying birthday cards that feature "over the hill" etc. so Thank you!

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